THE SNP have warned that the ongoing inquiry into the numerous “boozy lockdown parties” at Downing Street must not be a “Whitehall whitewash”.

The party said this would risk letting corruption off the hook and further undermine public trust.

The call comes after a briefing reported in The Times said that Sue Gray’s inquiry into the parties – which Boris Johnson and others have admitted took place and which they attended – may only give Johnson a slap on the wrist.

It is further expected to put the blame on aides and dodge linking the parties to any criminality, despite an apparent breach of lockdown rules.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson 'encouraged' No 10 staff to drink every week during restrictions

The SNP’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Brendan O’Hara said: “Boris Johnson – as well as his former aide this week – has been forced to admit that these boozy lockdown parties took place and that he attended them. There is no grey area or dodging the truth that Johnson broke the rules that he expected everyone else to follow.

“Any suggestion that the findings from this internal inquiry led by Sue Gray could be independent has been smashed – it has already been used to brief journalists in advance that Boris Johnson will only be given a slap on the wrists.

“This report risks being a Whitehall whitewash – another scandal brushed under the No 10 carpet. However, it won’t wash with the

public – with an overwhelming majority of people across the UK believing that Johnson should resign.”

The SNP has been calling for a judge-led inquiry – independent of government – to properly investigate the drinking parties at Downing Street at a time when everyone else was subject to lockdown restrictions, including on gatherings.

“The reality is that no civil servant, however highly regarded, can be expected to be judge and jury on their bosses,” said O’Hara. “The UK Government cannot continue to mark their own homework.

“The SNP has been clear that only a judge-led inquiry, which is independent of government, is fit to properly investigate the countless rule-breaking drinking parties. This entire shameful episode has once again shone a light on this corrupt Tory government which is a rot in our politics and undermining public trust. Tory MPs have a duty to put the interests of the country first and remove him from office.

“They may try and brush these scandals to the side, but the public won’t forgive or forget.”

The internal inquiry is being run by veteran civil servant Gray. Simon Case, the cabinet secretary who was initially tasked with leading it, was forced to step down after revelations that parties had been held in his own office.

The Times reported that Gray has “not uncovered sufficient evidence of criminality” to refer to the case to the police. The Metropolitan Police have repeatedly refused to investigate the lockdown-busting parties on Downing Street, a position for which they are now being sued.

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The news comes despite mounting reports of parties at No 10, including one which went on into the night the day before the Queen was photographed mourning Prince Philip alone at his funeral.

There is also an admission from Downing Street’s former director of communications – the now deputy editor of The Sun James Slack – that the party on April 16, 2021, happened.

Another party, which the Prime Minister admitted attending, saw 100 people invited to “bring your own bottle” on May 20, 2020.